Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Upstairs Bathroom {In Progress}: Mini-reveal

I had high hopes to publish a year in review post on the last day of the year, but the post isn't finished yet, so a mini-reveal of the upstairs bathroom will have to do. 

When we moved in the bathroom was a sickly yellow-green.  I painted it electric blue.  I didn't think it was that blue when I sampled it, but it turned out very blue

It wasn't terrible, but it was dark, and it didn't turn out like I thought it would.  So I repainted the walls white and the vanity blue.

This blank white wall is just crying out for art. 

We changed out the builder-grade 80s mirror for a nailhead mirror we already owned.  We changed the 80s Hollywood dressing room light fixture for a cheap updated one from Lowes.  And the naked lady moved back into the bathroom. 

The shower curtain and bath mats are from JC Penney.

I am thrilled with how this turned out.  Its bright, fresh and colorful.

I will say, however, that prepping and painting the vanity was a month-long ordeal that is making me rethink doing the kitchen.  I took the doors off the vanity because they (and every cabinet in this entire house) were covered with multiple coats of gloppy, drippy, thick, oil-based high gloss paint, and they looked awful.  I was prepared to do it right, take off the doors, sand them down, de-cake the hinges and re-use them.  It took two full weekends to get all the doors off the vanity and the hinges off the doors.  I made a few attempts at getting the thick layers of paint off the hinges, which was successful but I scratched the hinges up in the attempt, so I made the executive decision to just buy new hinges (a $12 expense). 

I found ones that were similar aged brass patina, with the same size holes, yay!  Except I didn't realize they were an eighth of an inch wider.  And then the doors didn't line up right with the new hinges.  And removing the doors caused some damage to the frame and we had to use bigger screws than came with the hinges.  Painting this vanity was an exercise in frustration on every level.

Our kitchen has the exact same cabinetry with the detailed edges (and horrendous gloppy drippy paint job).  I had planned on getting started next month on painting the cabinetry, but this experience is making me wonder if I should just live with it the way it is for the next ten years until we can afford to remodel.  At the very least I will invest in a paint sprayer and a Dremel sander for the edges. 

Oh well--at least the bathroom looks nice in the end. 

On that note, dear readers, I am signing off for a few days.  We are starting off the new year by having our house fumigated for termites--we get the circus tent!--and we have to be out of the house during that time.  I hope the holidays are treating you well and that 2014 is a fresh, happy beginning for you all. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

bathroom moodboard

I've been working on the upstairs bathroom.  You would think that a children's bathroom would be the perfect place for a color explosion, but I keep finding myself drawn to all white and black, spare, serene, monochromatic bathrooms.  If I had gone in that direction, I would have done something like this:

I am slightly obsessed with persian rugs these days.  The one in the board is on my local craigslist and I have been watching it for a month, but it is a weird size that would not fit anywhere in my house.  But it is pretty, yes?  I would love a 2x3 persian in our bathroom.

 black and white shower curtain from west elm / Hemnes double sink vanity / bone inlay mirror / Jonathan Adler sconce

I ended up doing something much more colorful, but I'll put this aside for my own master bath in the future.  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A yearly project, cement, doing it all not very well

I want to do a 365-type project for next year, or maybe a one-a-month project. I have ideas in mind, but haven't decided how to implement them.  One thing is I'd like to stop cursing like a sailor.  I've started on this already, with limited success.  It is really hard to stop cursing. The only thing I can think of to help me stop is some Cliff Clavin-type of electric shock whenever I curse.

How would you stop yourself from cursing? Your suggestions are welcome.

This morning I was merging onto a highway when I was cut off quite abruptly by a cement truck.  The cement truck had the back portion open and was spilling cement all over the highway. To avoid hitting/being hit by the cement truck, I was forced to swerve my brand new, less than two weeks old, doesn't even have plates yet car through a giant slurry of flying cement. 

Nobody I know ever has this sort of stuff happen to them. 

A while back, hush asked for a post on how I "do it all"--....I have a super easy, simple answer!

I don't. 

I don't even do half. 

You might (or might not) have noticed that over the past year I've gone from posting five days a week to posting two to three times a month.  I am having a hard time finding enough time to write up  blog posts.  I haven't found the time to actually finish three or four projects that are 90% done.  I attribute this lack of time to my greatly-increased chauffeur duties--in our old house I spent about forty minutes in the morning and the afternoon dropping kids off and picking kids up at school, but in our new house the morning drop off takes me two hours round trip and the afternoon  takes three....so....much of my free time is spent sitting on the highway. 

As for getting stuff done....how do I do it?  I tend to do large projects in spurts.  I will save up enough money for whatever it is, then do it all at once, probably over a weekend or two.  I've also started trying to hire out bigger projects, especially ones that involve heavy manual labor and tools we don't own.  We hired out the living room floor. I recently had a bunch of mid-size painting projects (like the fireplace) that I knew would involve lots of cutting in and bending and stretching, which usually leaves me with an ice-pack and a strained neck and back, so I hired those out too.  I can't always afford to do this, but when we can, it makes life easier. 

Any time I think "oh, I'll knock that out in a weekend, no problem!".....those always seem to turn into a goat rodeo.  Like the kids bathroom. 

I had the painter repaint a fresh white over my electric blue, and I thought I would do the easy task of repainting the crappy vanity and replace the hinges that had been painted over with forty-two coats of paint.  It took--wait for it--AN ENTIRE WEEKEND--to get those vanity doors off. That's right, two days, multiple shattered drill bits, a new screw extractor, the list goes on....and the doors are finally off but three hinges still remain on the doors, which means that I will be ruining the Mister's upcoming weekend as well.  I have not yet sanded the vanity or the doors or gotten anywhere near the vanity with a coat of paint yet, ten days after starting this project. 

Princess keeps asking when I am going to put the doors back on.  Not any time soon, kid.  I'm hoping to have this done by Valentine's Day. 

So there you have it.  I don't "do it all".  I do what I can, slowly, when I have time.  Sometimes I sit on my couch and read library books or other people's blogs rather than write a blog post or slap a coat of paint on a vanity.  Sometimes I get a burst of energy and get a ton of stuff done.  Bursts of energy generally only seem to happen on a weekend and/or if someone else is entertaining my children. 

There isn't any "doing it all."  Seriously.  I do home d├ęcor projects because I like them.  If I didn't, I'd be doing something else.  Sometimes projects take forever, but you don't see that when you're reading a post.  There's nothing behind the curtain but an old guy and some sound effects.  If you want to do it all, do what you like when you have the time.

(Words of wisdom from a woman who drove through a cement waterfall.) 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Living Room {In Progress}: Black Fireplace

A few weeks ago, I saw Little Green Notebook's black fireplace and was inspired to paint my own fireplace black.  I had been planning on painting the brick white for a while, but I was really excited by the thought of black, or even a navy blue fireplace.  I dithered for a while, but eventually the Mister and I settled on black. 

It was previously boring red brick with plain white molding.

First it was primed, and I thought ooh, maybe I should have stuck with white....

But then the black went up....

and I really, really, really like it. 

Super fly, right? 

The red painting over the brick fireplace moved into the dining room, because it did not show up that well against the black. I bought another canvas, primed it in white, freehanded a circle-ish shape in navy blue paint, used a ketchup bottle to squirt various colors on top of it, and voila, new art that pops against the black fireplace. 

This room is looking not terrible considering every item in it has been cobbled together from some other room.

I'd say Phase 1 of the Living Room is about done.  The floors are done, the fireplace looks fabulous, and the room looks nice and functions well while we save up our pennies.

For Phase 2, in a few years I'd like to do something similar to my win-the-lottery moodboard; I'll be getting a Persian rug, a blue velvet sofa, a Michelle Armas painting, and some pretty curtains for this room.  Actually--that's an exercise in self-restraint--I really really really want to get rid of the anchovy sofa--but I also really really really want a blue velvet sofa and that's not in the budget yet.  I am telling myself to keep sitting on the smelly sofa until I can afford what I really want.  The sofa has an aroma, though. 

Painted anything lately? 


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Dining Room {In Progress}: Besta shelf units and art switch

Over the past two weeks, we had a few things painted, moved some furniture around, and switched up the art.  It is still a work in progress, but it is coming along.

The dining room previously had the starburst painting, the dining table, and two small, very full Billy bookshelves acting as our game cabinet. 

We wanted a deeper cabinet, and I wanted a piece of furniture that filled the left wall from one end to the other.  We decided on Ikea's Besta shelf units with plain white Vara doors (I can't find the door online that we used).  We bought two double units and one single.  But for a half an inch, I would have bought three doubles, but that would have hung over the edge of the sunken living room.

I would also like to have bought the high gloss white doors, but that effectively doubled the cost of the whole thing, so we went with the cheap white doors.  I am searching for some interesting pulls for the doors to class it up a bit, but haven't found anything that strikes my fancy yet.

Another reason we picked the Besta--it is currently on sale 15% off for the month of December if you belong to Ikea Family (Ikea's free club card).  (I am not being compensated in any way for furnishing 90% of my house from Ikea.  Yes, my house is starting to look like Ikea showroom.  I blame the suckiness of the OC craigslist.)

The starburst art was 48 x 60, and the Bestas are 50 inches tall, so the starburst art was too large to hang above the Bestas.  This is a shame, because I really loved the view of the starburst from the family room through the kitchen door, but we moved it upstairs to the hallway. It looks pretty good up there too. 

I've found some different art for over the Bestas that I'm really excited about, and will post about when it gets here. 

We also changed out the curtains to plain white Ritva curtains from Ikea.  Previously the curtains were the same as the living room curtains, but it just felt cluttered.  The curtains need to be hemmed and I'd like to put some trim on as well. 

We moved the Billy bookshelves that were on the right side of the room upstairs, and moved some art around.  The red painting that was over the fireplace moved into the dining room, and the blue mirror moved over to another wall. 

I originally painted the red canvas with the idea that it would be hanging on a white fireplace, but then changed my mind about the fireplace.  It shows much more vibrantly against the white wall. Speaking of fireplaces...can you see a hint of how it turned out in the mirror? 

What is left to do in this room?
Hem the curtains.
Find trim for the curtains.
Hang art over the Bestas.
Find door pulls for the Bestas.
Replace tiny green lamps with larger scale lamps.
Rug for under the table--eventually when I buy a Persian rug for the living room the black and white striped rug that is currently in the living room will move into the dining room. 


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Boys' Room {In Progress}: switcheroo

My lack of spatial planning skills have already been discussed on this blog ad nauseum, but here's another example, just in case you weren't sure.  

When we moved in, we put the boys in the corner room.  It is 11 x 11, and about the same size as fourth bedroom, but the fourth bedroom has the closet in a bump-out, and it seemed that would be easier to fit the beds in the other room.  On moving day we put the boys in the corner room.  

We piled a bunch of junk and unused furniture in the Room of Requirement. 

Fast forward about two weeks.  I have played around with every possible furniture combination, and the only way to fit two beds in that bedroom is to block either the door or the closet that runs the full length of one wall.  I mentioned to the Mister that perhaps we should think about moving the boys into the junk room, but it was generally decided that would be an enormous PITA, and thus the boys lived for six months in the corner room, with the bed blocking the closet (and all the storage that closet entails but we can't access).  

We decided that the obvious solution would be to buy a bunk bed.  For reasons I won't bore you with, we needed a low loft bunk bed, not a high bunk.  We found one we liked, but it was $1300.  I started a bunk bed fund and saved money towards it.  

Then we decided that the disgusting living room carpet was more of a priority than a bunk bed, but I still hated the set up in the boys room.  And I came back to the idea of switching what was now the guest bedroom with the boys room.  Because that solved all of our furniture orientation problems FOR FREE, with the only cost being our aching backs and about seven hours of our Sunday afternoon.  

You recall the boys' room before?

And the guest bedroom (oh, the irony, I just finished that room two weeks ago).

And now, they are switched.  Here is the new boys' room.  (It is not done yet, but its getting there.) 

One thing I love about the new arrangement is that the pictures of the boys are now over their beds, like they were in our old house.  This room did not have enough room for the white nightstand between the beds unless they blocked the closets, so out it went, and in came a black side table that was living in the garage. 

We took the sliding doors off the closet, and put the dressers inside the closet.  I would like to get some curtains hung to hide the view.  

The Expedit that was previously in the boys room moved in here, as did the Expedit that used to be in our living room.  (When we rearranged the living room, that Expedit moved upstairs to the guest room.).  We lined them both up along the wall to make an extra long bookcase/toy shelf/Lego display table.  

There you have it.  Its not the biggest room, but this functions much better than the old set up.  The guest bedroom also has a better set up, but it isn't fully finished yet and there are currently guests residing in it, so hopefully next week I will have pictures of it.  

Obviously there are still a few things left to do in here.
-The closet needs curtains.
-The long Expedit wall needs art.  Peter suggested a picture of a solar system, which I think is a fabulous idea.  
-the curtains are hung too high. The previous navy curtains were 96 inches and hung to the ceiling, and are now puddling on the floor in their new home, while these curtains are only about 87 inches long and so are floods in this room.  
-the door jamb is still half painted black that is peeling off
-I would like to either get madras plaid comforters or madras plaid curtains from Pottery Barn Kids for this room. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

painted white brick

The painting projects are rolling along.  I love how different a coat of paint will make a space feel. 

When we moved in the house, the kitchen had two small walls of exposed brick. One was in the hallway adjacent to the kitchen, and the other was the facing around the double oven.  I personally don't like exposed brick indoors, and I can't remember why I didn't have the brick painted at the same time as the kitchen.  Money, probably. 

Have I ever put pictures of what the kitchen looked like originally on the blog?  It was sage green. 

Anyhoo, we lived with the brick for six months.  In the meantime, I hung corkboards over the hallway side for kid art

And now it is painted a fresh crisp white. (Dunn Edwards Whisper in eggshell finish).  I LOVE IT. I should have painted these sooner. It makes the room look bigger and cleaner and crisper.  And even though I don't like actual brick, the painted brick is a nice textural feel but feels cohesive with the rest of the room when painted the same color.

More projects to come!  The black fireplace is nearly done! (!!!)  The upstairs kids bathroom is nearly done! The master bathroom--the only swine beige left in the house--is scheduled to be done this week.  Onward ho! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

no more minivan; tree cozies

I have a whole bunch of projects that are 90% finished....and none that are finished enough to photograph. I switched the boys' room and the guest room, I put new curtains in the dining room, there are new photo ledges in the living room, the fireplace is being painted....and if I ever finish any of these projects I will show you them.  Working on it.

The end of an era has arrived....I am no longer driving a minivan. 

The minivan got 16 miles to the gallon and I drive about 100 miles a day.  Our monthly gas bill was astronomical.  We were also looking at some expensive repairs and we decided to trade it in for a car with better mileage.

I owned the new car for less than twenty-four hours before a child very nearly threw up inside it (a near miss). In retrospect, my decision to save money by not getting leather seats seems like a poor one, grasshopper. 

I already miss the minivan.

I have a feeling I won't be buying much on Craigslist anymore either.  

The Mister and I went out to dinner and saw this:

Sister! I need you to crochet me some tree cozies.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

The new floors are in! And they are fabulous!

Our new floors look fabulous.

You'll recall that we had gross berber carpet that looked like this.

Now we have new laminate floors that look like this:

The installers did a nice job with the transition spaces.

The new floors are not an exact match to the old ones--the new floors are a touch redder, and the planks are a full inch wider.  However, the french bleed edge made a big difference when looking at the floor as a whole, so we went with that option. I'm sure you can see the difference since I am pointing it out, but in person it is a pretty close match.

I was surprised at how much bigger the space feels without the carpet.  I was also mildly surprised at how much the carpet had muffled sound---the downstairs now has a much louder echo effect, even if you are in the kitchen or family room.

I am really happy with how this turned out!  I think it looks fabulous, it was reasonably priced, and I no longer have to vacuum under the dining table.  Laminate flooring FTW!  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

a living room moodboard, if one has won the lottery

The new floors look fabulous, if I do so say myself.  It was dark by the time the installers were finished, so I didn't get any pictures, but rest assured I will have pictures for tomorrow.

In the meantime, the beautimous new floors have me thinking about a whole new living room design.  (Not happening. But a girl can dream.)  If I win the lottery, here's what I'll buy.  

I am crushing hard on a blue velvet sofa. In the immortal words of Wayne, "oh yes, she WILL be mine."

I love these Peter Dunham fig leaf drapes.  This material is to the trade and outfitting my living room with six panels would cost more than sending my children to college.  I know that Amber Interiors Shoppe used to carry them, although they don't appear to be in stock at the moment.

You can't go wrong with a classic Eames chair.  Or in this case, a knockoff if you don't have five grand burning a hole in your pocket.

I've been window shopping persian rugs for about a year now.  I can tell you that the rugs I like are way, wayyyyyy out of my budget.  For example, a quality wool persian rug in an 11 x 17 size my living room needs runs north of $10,000.  (I have champagne taste.  Sadly, I have a beer budget. But in this scenario I've won the lottery, so let's pretend.)

However, craigslist here consistently has a good selection of persian rugs for decent prices.  (The OC Craigslist consistently has really crappy stuff for crackhead pricing in every other category. I literally clench my teeth and howl when shopping craigslist.  But if you want a cheap persian rug, you are in the right place.)
The persian rug above is from Horchow.  I'll be shopping craigslist.

Last but not least, a Robert Abbey lamp.

If you won the lottery and did some good deeds and fed starving children and gave lots of your winnings to your family and community and favorite charities and there was a bit left over for your favorite wish-list decor element....what would you buy?

I would buy a really awesome vintage sofa and have it reupholstered in a luxurious blue velvet.  She WILL be mine.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

living room flooring options

The living room floor is currently covered in a super gross ten year old cream-ish-beigey berber carpet.

It doesn't look too bad in the above picture, but I assure you, it is gross.  We had it cleaned before we moved in, but it remains disgusting. (I can't solely blame the previous owners; we have contributed to making it more disgusting.)

We are are going to rip up the gross carpet and put down some sort of hard flooring, like hardwood or tile or anything other than this carpet. One consideration is that in a few years we would like to raise the sunken living room and renovate the kitchen, which will include all the floors downstairs.  This is about seven years away, so we are looking for an interim flooring solution that won't be too expensive or hard to remove when we are ready.

Our other consideration is trying to match the hardwood floors in the other half of the first floor.  When we bought the house, the previous owners gave us the paperwork for the flooring that is currently installed. They put in $18/sq ft hand-scraped hickory with a french bleed edge, which is a distinctive dark black edge around the edge of each plank. This french bleed edge pretty much ensures that no cheap flooring option will match the existing flooring.


This hickory floor is of course now discontinued.  We found similar but not perfect hardwood options, but unfortunately they are also in the $20/ sq ft range, which is not in our budget at the moment.

We considered a few different options.

Option 1:  vinyl planks.
This is a floating floor that looks like hardwood flooring but is actually thin vinyl planks that glue onto each other.

 It is cheap--it is under $2 a square foot and pretty easy to install ourselves. This would be an economical and easy option to put down for a few years, then easily take it up when we are ready to redo the kitchen and floors.

This had the best color match to our existing wood floors, but the lack of a french bleed edge was really noticeable.

Cons: the one big complaint is that it STINKS like chemicals.  Some reviews say it wears off in a month, some say years, some say it stunk so bad they couldn't live with it and had to rip it out.  I have a kid with severe allergies and I find myself rather sensitive to chemical-ish smells.

This option was the front-runner until I came across the smell problem.

Option 2: Polished concrete.
I would LOVE to just roll up the gross carpet and paint the concrete subfloor beneath.  Unfortunately the carpet is heavily glued down. I am reluctant to deal with harsh chemical strippers to remove the glue. Everything I have read on this just makes it sound like a nightmare. Furthermore, the concrete subfloor is very rough and would need to polished or ground down to a smoother surface.  

Having a new concrete floor put down would be essentially skim coating the concrete floor already there. I love the look of polished concrete, its very durable, and it would be a ready subfloor for putting flooring on top of when we redo the kitchen.  While I anticipate a lot of people saying "too cold!", we live in a warm climate that would be just fine year round for a "cold" concrete floor.

Cons: I called five concrete floor installers.  Only one returned my calls, and that one told me they would call me back after looking at their schedule, and never called back.  So I have no idea how much this costs. Obviously I'm not going with this option.

Option 3: laminate click-down flooring
We didn't find any samples that exactly matched our existing flooring, but, we found a few that are close. Its reasonably inexpensive and easy to remove when we are ready to remodel.

We went with the middle sample in the above picture.  It is a bit redder than the existing floor and the plank is an inch wider, but it was the best option out of all the ones we considered.  (That one on the far right looks a bit closer in color in the picture, doesn't it?  In person it did not.)

The floor goes in on Wednesday.

Cross your fingers that it is not glaringly different once installed in a large expanse.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

art for Princess's room

Recently I hung the art that I bought in New Jersey for Princess's room.  The moment I saw this picture I thought it would be perfect for the wall beside her window.

When I bought the art, it was in a nice but rather beat up peach-toned frame.

When I removed the frame in order to make it prettier, it fell apart.  This left me with just the canvas, and it was a cheap canvas with staples on the side.

To cover up the staples, I hot-glued some turquoise grosgrain ribbon around the edge of the frame.  Voila, ready to hang.

I love how this painting looks in the room.